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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Where is Riverbend?

As you can see from clicking the following hot link, Baghdad Burning, in just one more month it will be two painful years since a woman who called herself "Riverbend" made her last post on her weblog.

Starting from the time that I first read her work, which must've been in 2003, "Baghdad Burning" was and still is my favorite weblog. In it she vividly portrayed what it was like to be an Iraqi after the GWBush administration sent an overpowering number of troops into her country and quickly made of it a shambles, from which Iraq still shows few signs of recovering, as far as I can see. She painted unforgettable word pictures not only of herself but also of her family members and of Iraqis in general as they coped with the steady descent into sheer catastrophe brought on by the invasion. Eventually the various personal outrages that she shared with the other Iraqis were even marked by what became a popular crime in Iraq, kidnapping. Some people grabbed one of her cousins, and he was returned only after her family had seriously strained itself financially by paying a big ransom.

I was also constantly struck by her determination and courage in sticking things out, when so many other Iraqis were choosing to leave by any means possible. But finally, after four years of the chaos, they decided that they had to leave, and they went to neighboring Syria, from which the October 22, 1007 was the last post she made, at a time when whether they would be able to stay there, too, was still very much up in the air.

The mention in the news today that something called Eid, which comes after the end of the Muslim celebration of Ramadan, is about to start. I remembered that Riverbend had made ofa big thing of Eid, a name that appealed to me and which I had never heard of and still don't recall what it was about, except that it was important.

I guess part of the mystique that bound me so closely to the idea of this woman was the mystique of her mystery that she kept wrapped so tightly and thickly around her, despite the way that she assaulted male Muslim attitudes by dressing in jeans and other revealing garb while against the tent-covered way in which they thought she should be dressed. Who was Riverbend? What was her real name? What did she look like? Her mastery of the American idiom was such that she must've spent a lot of time in the U.S., yet she never let loose one inkling as to whether or not she had, and whenever she mentioned the U.S., it was usually with scorn. What happened in Syria? Where is she now? Most importantly, is she still alive and well? I have yet to read any answers to all these questions.

I always thought that if Riverbend were to come to the U.S. she would end up being quite well off. She had a large number of admirers here, and for one thing a great movie could be made of her story, though in other places she also had detractors. Some thought she didn't exist but was just someone's extremely clever creation. Others also called her a Ba'athist, because she clearly preferred the world of the highly criminal Saddam Hussein to that of the equally crimiinal George W. Bush -- where Iraq was concerned. But that was only to be expected when you consider that as long as Saddam was around, at least things as basic as electricity, running water, and law and order were available all the time, instead of just the few hours a day after the bringing of "democracy."

I know that weblogging is an activity easily to be dropped and never to be resumed again, or at least only after a long interval, and I seriously hope that that is all it is, in Riverbend's case.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there, I was googling to see if someone had finally mentioned something about her being alive and well and found this entry on your blog. Unfortunately, I have no news, but fortunately, I have no bad news either and it is good to see people still care about her. I have been following her blog for a few years and can only hope that she decided that the last line of her most recent post, where she tells us she cried because for the first time in years she felt the kinship again with her fellow Iraqis despite being of different faiths, just as it had been before the war, was exactly the right way to sign off and that she's decided to build a new life in Syria. That is, assuming her family was allowed to stay permanently or they decided to stay even though they weren't. Which, in the latter case, might also mean she would not want to attract attention to herself. One can only hope for the best, I think. Let's hope Afghanistan as well as Iraq will one day become peaceful nations, despite Bush's ill conceived plans and that Riverbend and people like her will be able to take their place in their own society again. One thing is for certain though, Riverbend's words have touched many people the world over and have made more people aware of how Iraqis really live today. Let's hope she gets to add a lot to that legacy.

3:17 PM  
Blogger STP said...

I, too, look around the internet from time to time for Riverbend, and also hope that I will click on her blog and find a new post a minute after she has posted it.

I was fortunate to have had a brief E Mail exchange with her a few years ago when I apologized, as an American, for what our country was doing to her people. She was gracious and appreciative, and she certainly understood that many Americans were not George W. Bush. She "got" us.

I miss her blog terribly and hope she is alive, well and simply not interested in speaking with us for now.

8:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes. I miss Riverbend too. Odd there is no info from Syria, even if it is just rumors.

10:08 AM  
Blogger KirstieC said...

Hey! Riverbend just posted!

5:29 PM  

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